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Sunday January 24, 2010
I WISH to refer to the letter “Jail those who abandon their parents” (The Star, Jan 21).
The writer, obviously frustrated with taking care of her bedridden mother who has passed away, wishes that her siblings be jailed for abandoning their mother.
There are countless such cases but you cannot impose a law to jail people as there may be extenuating circumstances, including very bad parents who deserve this kind of treatment.
Take my case as an example. I have been taking care of my mother since I was 18 after my father died in 1971.
He was a fairly rich man and had two wives and two mistresses. Of his four houses, including a huge bungalow, he left only a terrace house to my mother who is the second wife. The rest went to the other family. My two sisters received some shares which they sold and used the money to buy their own house.
As the only son and youngest in the family, I received not even a sen although I was a good child.
I reckon that I must have spent more than RM300,000 (part of this also came from my wife) over the past 36 years just to support my mother. One sister is a housewife and has no income while the other is overseas and sends home money as and when she pleases.
My mother’s house that she gave to me was sold for RM470,000 upon her request to finance her very expensive nursing home and medical expenses of over RM7,000 a month.
She took all the money despite my request to manage it for her. She didn’t even bother to consult me and asked her lawyer to speak to me.
She has never worked a day in her life, well served by servants. My parents did not send me to university because my father died with only RM700 cash to his name.
As a salaried worker, I furthered my studies at my own expense.
Suffice to say, the sister overseas pays lip service and is reluctant to come out with any money while the eldest sister who is in the same town where my mother’s five-star nursing home is, occasionally visits her.
I am now semi-retired, terminally ill and have two young children. I have some savings and no debts.
Am I supposed to dig deep into my hard earned savings to pay RM7,000 a month for my mother when her money from the sale of her house runs out?
What about my children’s education? What about myself? Am I abandoning my mother if I refuse to pay her bills?
It is every parent’s responsibility to care for their children, otherwise don’t bring them into this world.
While our Asian culture approves of filial piety, there is a limit, especially when it comes to financial matters.
Even if a person has saved over RM1million, he may want to give the best to his children and not want to be further burdened by an aged or ailing parent.
If you start jailing people for this, you may inadvertently encourage people to squander their money or be plain lazy because they can look forward to their children supporting them in later years.
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